How much should I feed my dog?

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A handful. A bowlful. However much they’ll eat. We all have different ways of feeding our dog. But feeding the right amount can have a big impact on their health  – keeping them at a healthy weight and reducing pressure on their joints to name just a couple. But how much food is the right amount?

How much should dogs eat?

Every dog’s ideal portion is different. Lots of factors affect how much food your dog needs, including:

  • Breed
  • Size
  • Metabolism
  • Activity level
  • Age
  • How often they eat
  • Appetite
  • Whether or not they’re neutered

Getting your dog’s portion size right is all about balance. Big dogs need more food to fuel their larger frame, but their metabolism tends to be slower – so a dog five times as big as a Chihuahua doesn’t necessarily need five times as much food.

With most foods for dogs, there’s some trial and error involved. The packet usually gives a guideline amount, so start there. Then adjust this to account for any reasons your dog’s metabolism might be faster or slower than average – an online dog calorie calculator can help.

When you choose tails.com, you don’t need to worry about all that. We make sure your dog always gets exactly the right amount, by basing our sums on the information you provide in our easy two minute nutritional consultation. And you never have to think twice about how much you’re serving, because we send you an adjustable scoop that makes it effortless to measure the right amount every time.

how much should dogs eat
Meet some of our office dogs with their unique portion size

How often should I feed my dog?

Most owners feed twice a day – this is a great routine for healthy dogs with a good appetite, who don’t mind a long gap between meals.

Feeding twice a day supports effective blood glucose control, and helps keep your dog’s energy levels stable. It helps make meals more enjoyable too – most owners are home with their dog at least twice a day, so breakfast and dinner don’t have to be rushed.

Some dogs prefer to eat more often, and that’s OK – it all comes down to your dog’s energy levels and appetite, and what works best for you. Whatever you decide, keep your dog’s portion sizes in check by working out how much food your dog needs for the day, and splitting it between how many meals you’re planning to serve.

how often to feed a dog

Can I feed my dog once a day?

Most dogs need food more often. But for those with a particularly small appetite, a single meal a day may be enough. Working dogs who are out all day may also prefer to have one rewarding meal in the evening, with treats throughout the day to keep their motivation up.

What’s free feeding?

Free or ad lib feeding means putting enough food out for the whole day, and letting your dog graze when they like. This can be helpful if your dog needs to gain weight, because it makes sure there’s always food available when they want to eat.

Junior dogs and underweight adolescents can benefit from free feeding too, as long as you weigh out the right amount of food at the start of the day. This keeps them from overeating, which can affect their digestion and growth.

Free feeding isn’t suitable for all dogs. Give it a miss if your dog falls into one of these categories:

  • Dogs with a seemingly endless appetite who will eat too much
  • Those with a poor appetite who need a long gap between meals to feel hungry
  • Deep chested breeds that may be prone to bloating
  • Overweight dogs who need controlled portions for weight loss
  • Dogs with certain medical conditions like diabetes
  • Those with digestion issues made worse by eating too much, or too quickly

What are the benefits of feeding little and often?

Feeding small meals four times a day can help dogs with a small appetite eat more. This means it’s good for small or underweight dogs as it helps them stay, or get back to, a healthy weight. Appetite can wane as dogs age too, so many elderly dogs prefer eating this way. Little and often is also recommended if your dog is prone to low blood sugar, or is a working dog.

It’s important for active dogs rest after each meal so they don’t bloat – something that can cause serious health complications.

What if my dog’s still hungry?

If you’re feeding the recommended amount and your dog is still giving you their ‘feed me please’ eyes, try to resist the urge to top up their bowl right away. Some dogs – for example, Pugs, Labradors, Beagles and Dachshunds – are renowned for wanting to eat all day. Switching them to a less energy dense, or higher-fibre food can help. So can feeding smaller meals more regularly. These are just some of the ideas we recommend for easing your dog’s hunger without overfeeding.

How often should I feed my puppy?

Puppies use lots of energy and nutrients to fuel their healthy growth, and have a harder time regulating their blood sugar – that means they need to be fed more often than most adult dogs. We recommend three to four small meals a day.

Related blog: How much should I feed my puppy?

Can I feed my dog at different times each day?

Whichever routine you choose, try and stick to a regular schedule so your dog gets to know when food is coming. Regular mealtimes also keep your dog pooing like clockwork, so it’s easier to track any changes in their digestive health.

Our food works with any routine, so tails.com customers are completely in control – you tell us the routine that works best for you and your dog, and we design a feeding plan around it.

Got questions about how much to feed your dog? Whether you’re establishing a new routine or thinking of changing an old one, get in touch with us at hello@tails.com – our veterinary and nutritionist team are always happy to offer their expert advice.

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